Berkeley CSUA MOTD:Entry 53038
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2017/12/15 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular
12/15   

2009/5/23-6/1 [Politics/Domestic/California, Politics/Domestic/SocialSecurity] UID:53038 Activity:low
5/23    Public opinion is basically pathological
        http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2009/05/everything-is-unpopular.php
        \_ Yeah, voters are stupid.
        \_ I'm disheartened that the most popular program to cut is the
           space program. I think most people assume it gets a lot more
           money than it does. As this article says, its budget is tiny
           relative to the size of the federal government. I think if people
           realized what DoD spent they would realize it has to be #1 on the
           list. Either that, Social Security, or Medicare. Choose. My dad
           (who gets Social Security) said that if he were a person under
           40 he'd lobby hard to reduce it given that we pay in and may never
           see that money again. I think most people would find defense
           most palatable.
           see that money againm but I think most people would find defense
           see that money again but I think most people would find defense
           cuts more palatable.
           (Pie chart of government spending: link:tinyurl.com/oanezb
        \_ They want stuff and don't want to pay for it.  Nothing new to
           see here.  This is, however, why welfare programs are broken.
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Cache (8192 bytes)
yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2009/05/everything-is-unpopular.php
There was, for example, overwhelming opposition to raising taxes in order to close the budget deficit: notaxes But there's also overwhelming opposition to the sort of spending cuts that could possible close the deficit: spending-1 People want to cut . And note that space is the only line item to secure majority support for cuts primarily because Democrats apparently hate outer space. And in particular, Republicans overwhelming oppose cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security which account for by far the majority of domestic spending. On tax specifics, the public actually does a bit better and is willing to support exactly two kinds of tax increases--hikes on booze and on cigarettes: taxesspecifics Cigarette taxes are already a good deal higher than they were back when this poll was taken, since that's how congress elected to pay for SCHIP expansion. Consequently, the booze tax hikes I've been talking about may well be in the works. What you want are institutions that result in politicians being held accountable for results--you tend to lose your seat if your governance leads to disaster--rather than accountable for adherence to public views on particular issues. We could save alot of money just by not paying interest on Treasuries for several years. If someone put an initiative on the California ballot banning the state from paying back principal or interest on its bonds, you really think it wouldn't pass? Or maybe I'm crediting the public with too much capacity for logical thinking. I suspect that the kind of institutions that pay for polls generally have a fairly strong vested interest in making sure that a partial default on US Government debt is beyond the pale. May 23rd, 2009 at 10:20 am Years of deficit spending have deluded people into thinking that at the margin government is free. Why pay taxes when you can just borrow from China, or (more recently) have Boom Boom Bernanke print the money? May 23rd, 2009 at 10:20 am Re "What you want are institutions that result in politicians being held accountable for results--you tend to lose your seat if your governance leads to disaster " --------- So how is that Financial bailout going, Matthew? Gold moving on up -which suggests the dollar is starting to slide down. May 23rd, 2009 at 10:26 am space is the only line item to secure majority support for cuts primarily because when you give someone 11 options and ask them to choose two of them, the options are going to average at most 18% support. And if one of the items is really unimportant, a lot of people will choose that. I mean, I agree with the main point, but that poll question doesn't seem to show anything. May 23rd, 2009 at 10:32 am Well the space program should be cut. Yeah, it's cool, but it's no longer cool enough to get the kids excited about it, which was the main benefit. I thought it was so cool when I was a kid that I studied science and became an engineer. But then again, Star Wars (the movie, not the defense program) probably did more to push me that way. What's striking though is that more Republicans want farm subsidies cut than Democrats. I thought the whole purpose of farm subsidies was to give money to people who voted Republican. But if that's the case, let's eliminate them completely and set up private insurance plans to deal with the uncertainties of agriculture. Like the old farmer's insurance plans of the pre-Depression era. Given that the farmers who already vote Republican are for it apparetly, let's give them what they want. And at least we could avoid the irony of these people bitching about how government sucks while collecting their farm welfare checks. If they think it sucks, then they should be perfectly happy to not be subsidized by the government. Defense spending is another great place for spending cuts. Why Americans are such wimps that we need to spend so much is beyond me. Maybe we could spend less than the rest of the entire world. The Estate Tax is really weird because it's down now, and about to go up simply by the way it was planned. The solution here is to tell people we'll cut it, and not actually cut it. It's a huge deal to rednecks who can only dream of having enough money to get caught up in it. So let's lower the estate tax for those who can't qualify from zero to zero. But we can sell it as a tax cut, and nobody will notice because they aren't paying it anyway. May 23rd, 2009 at 10:38 am I'm with Matt Weiner-the spending poll doesn't show what Matt Yglesias seems to be suggesting. That said, I suspect Matt Yglesias's basic point is correct, meaning if you added up spending cuts a majority would support and tax increases a majority would support, you would come nowhere near balancing the budget. May 23rd, 2009 at 10:38 am Mostly, this shows how delusional it is to rely on polls. I hate hearing pundits and others say "people think X" and rely on some poll. There are many cases where an "average" response represents the response of very few individuals. The problem also stems from the typical piecemeal nature of polling, asking about 1 item at a time rather than a composite, and trying to deduce a composite snapshot. If you go individuals and ask, "OK, what would you prefer in the US budget; There are x dollars in income, and here is the current list of expenditures. And rational people will approach this type of question more realistically than the condescending, checkbox approach of many pollsters. May 23rd, 2009 at 10:46 am These poll data, as Matt notes, indicate a general, and irrational, desire for a big expensive government that no one has to pay for. It seems to me, though, that part of the cause of this irrationality is due to the way both sides of the political divide discuss tax increases. Any discussion of tax increases seems to be founded upon either a need for everyone to pay more or to tax the rich, merely because they are rich. Neither of these reasons appeal to the general population. The first is disliked because these folks are already paying a great deal in taxes for very limited benefit, the second is unpopular because taking money from people simply because they have it rankles their sense of morals. What is rarely pointed out in any detail by the left, is that for the vast majority of wealthy folks (if not, in fact all wealthy folks) their wealth is critically dependent upon federal services. Change those labels to remove references to federal prosecution and instead some corporate executive will be really cross, I think the value of these corporations would decrease. This is only one of many examples, Rush Limbaugh's wealth is dependent upon the FCC keeping everyone else off "Rush's" airwaves, incorporation itself is a valuable service, etc. Charging people money in order to supply them a service they use to earn money is not broadly considered to be a moral violation. I suspect that we could get much more support for tax increases on the wealthy if we would point out the perfectly true fact that it is in return for valuable services provided, not just because we want money. we could get much more support for tax increases on the wealthy if we would point out the perfectly true fact that it is in return for valuable services provided, not just because we want money. Because the means by which such a message could be spread are largely in the hands of people who believe as a matter of gospel that the the government cannot provide any valuable services? Perfectly true facts, while perfectly true, are not self-popularizing, and certainly not self-popularizing against the osmotic pressure of billions of dollars of highly diverting lies. How many people actually get criminally prosecuted for copyright violation? My sense is that nearly all copyright violation gets dealt with by civil suits. Is the DOJ really wasting money prosecuting people for violating Disney's copyrights? Now, the fact that we have a system of civil law which protects Disney's copyrights is also a function of government. May 23rd, 2009 at 11:22 am Change those labels to remove references to federal prosecution and instead some corporate executive will be really cross, I think the value of these...